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News - All - 17 Sep 2018

News Item 52 of 4477 

Miscellaneous: 17 Sep 2018
Sprucedale neighbourhood comes together ‘to heal and repair’

Community members living on Sprucedale Crescent gather for a community street party in Kitchener, Ont. on Sept. 15. - Andrej Ivanov , Waterloo Region Record

KITCHENER — They cried and laughed, and held hands and hugged each other.

For nearly four weeks, the residents of Sprucedale Crescent have been on a roller-coaster ride of emotions after they saw their neighbour's home explode and land in a pile of rubble.

The blast levelled a house and badly damaged two adjacent homes and sent many in the neighbourhood running for covering, wondering what was happening.

They were sad to hear that their neighbour, Edra Haan, who had lived in the Forest Heights neighbourhood for more than two decades had died in the blast. Her husband, Udo, remains in a Hamilton hospital, downgraded from critical to serious condition.

Then there was anger when Waterloo Regional Police said Edra's death was a homicide.

On Saturday, they remembered the morning of Aug. 22 when their street forever changed.

Brock Greenhalgh, a resident of the street, described it best as he told neighbours and others who gathered in front of his home Saturday afternoon to remember.

A teacher at Westheights Public School, Greenhalgh said he couldn't help but use an analogy of Sprucedale Crescent being a "beautiful smile" and the houses on the street being the "solid teeth."

"We wait for new teeth to grow to heal our hearts and minds and make Sprucedale Crescent a beautiful smile again," said Greenhalgh, who was overcome with emotion, as he addressed the group.

Greenhalgh was behind a move to raise money to buy benches to support the neighbourhood and unite the residents.

About $5,000 was raised and the funds were matched by the City of Kitchener. Thirty benches were given to residents, plus an extra 10 benches will be placed in public spaces.

Edra's family, including her son Spencer and her two brothers, Al and Mario Pinheiro, joined the neighbourhood on Saturday.

"We can't say enough," said Al Pinheiro, referring to the support from the neighbourhood.

He acknowledged the two families displaced from their homes, the people who saved the family dog and the neighbours for coming up with the idea of benches to bring people together.

"I don't know where we go from here. But I know one thing. This neighbourhood is tight and we will go through this together," he told the group.

Pinheiro, a tow-truck driver, said on Friday he stopped and paused when a butterfly landed on his truck while he was dealing with a car crash.

"Eddie is looking down on us. She is with us all," he said.

Pinheiro said the family is trying to move on because life carries on.

"You are going through your normal day and something triggers you and all of a sudden you choke up," he said.

For neighbours, the Saturday gathering was cathartic.

"It's community building, street building," said Sarah Stemerdink, who lived in the neighbourhood for 20 years but moved a year ago.

"It's about healing and repairing," she said.

Cathy Voisin, who's lived on the street for 27 years, said the tragedy has brought her closer to her neighbours, many of whom she now knows by name.

"It took my husband, Bob, over an hour to get the garbage bin at the end of the street the other week," she joked.

"For all of us, our sense of safety and security has been shaken and we are working together to get some of that back," she said.

lmonteiro@therecord.com

Twitter: @MonteiroRecord

lmonteiro@therecord.com

Liz Monteiro Waterloo Region Record/AA
 

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